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Walter N. Lewis interview with Tales of Cape Cod, June 02, 1978 in Osterville, MA. Born in 1906, in Osterville, Mr. Lewis recalls that his paternal grandfather was a peddler and grandmother was a nurse who worked for wealthy summer residents. She was a Bliss and her family owned substantial land in Centerville. His father was a carpenter and shell fisherman. His mother took in washing and ironing. Mr. Lewis recalls meeting William Lloyd Garrison who allowed his father to have a shell fishing plot on his land. He recalls that the school in Osterville called “swamp school” had three rooms, three teachers and nine grades. As a youth he caddied at Sepuit Golf Course and was paid 15 cents for nine holes. In 1918 he was paid 50 cents when the Wianno Gulf Club opened. Mr. Lewis at 15 or 16 was a scratch player at golf and he regularly beat Joseph P. Kennedy and won six to twelve dollars each time. He traveled south and played in golf exhibitions playing Walter Hagen. He worked for Harry Rawlings who was the first winner of the US Open. He came back home and became a greens keeper at Wianno Country Club and started learning how to be a cabinet maker from his father. During the depression he worked a six-day week for five dollars a week. His wife’s maiden name was Kendrick and her father worked for the Coast Guard in Chatham. Her father was one of the men who rescued the seamen that were attacked by the German submarine near Orleans during World War I. Mr. Lewis described the local village economy after the depression. It consisted of the building trades, fishing, cutting wood in the winter for the West Barnstable brick yards, and working for summer residents. He also describes the stores and buildings on Main Street, Osterville in his youth. He speaks of Dr. Kinney who walked his rounds in the village. Indoor plumbing and electricity came in 1912. He has some humorous stories about prohibition, finding the bottles in burlap bags in the water and selling them to pay your taxes. He would pick up boxes from a mother ship and he remembers one time seeing 130 boats dragging for bottles of booze that had been dropped overboard by boats fleeing the Coast Guard. He remembered a shipwreck of a coal barge in 1920 that provided his parents coal for three to four years.
The Tales of Cape Cod Oral History Collection is located at the William Brewster Nickerson Archives in the Wilkens Library at Cape Cod Community College in West Barnstable, Massachusetts.
For more information about the Collection, please contact the Nickerson Archives at http://www.nickersonarchives.org/.
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